Spring is always a hopeful time. The grass turns green, flowers begin blooming, and the trees bud. Bees begin spreading pollen. And, yuck, around here, the mosquitoes show up, too. We have some monsters out there this year.
I don’t always look forward to spring. The reason isn’t because I don’t love the season itself, because I do. But I hate what it foreshadows. Summer. Summer in Dallas, TX can be brutal. I dread it every year, from the time it leaves until it comes again! We have had a lot of unseasonably “warm” weather already this year. I hope and pray it is not preparing us for months of 100+ degree days.
But, one thing I do always anticipate about spring is bluebonnet time! Bluebonnets around here are mostly the Lupinus texensis, though there are many species of the genus Lupinus and many of them may be found growing in Texas during March and April.
Bluebonnets are the State flower of Texas. We Texans take them very seriously!!! There are myths that are perpetuated annually that it is against the law to even pick one of the lovely blue flowers.
It is a Texas tradition to take the kids (two- and four-legged) out to the fields where the lovely blue flowers grow wild for pictures. You will usually find me out there when the first flower pops up and many more times until they disappear for another year.
I came across some pictures that my husband took of my two dogs and me out in the bluebonnets back in March 2013. I had recently been diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer and my prognosis was very bad. When we went to the bluebonnet patch, neither of us had much hope that I would be alive to see another bluebonnet season.
|Cotton was exploring while Barney was doing what Mom asked!|
|These two dogs have brought me such great joy – then and now!|
|Let’s get a “perfect” picture!|
|This is a picture of pure happiness!|
I am sad to say that the field where these bluebonnets were no longer turns blue in March and April. I am not sure why. I do know that it is getting harder and harder to find nice spots to take pictures. Maybe the property owners don’t want the liability. These fields of blue draw hundreds of people every year.
Ladybird Johnson, as part of the Highway Beautification Act, encouraged the planting of bluebonnets and other native plants along Texas highways after she left the White House. As you drive from Dallas to Austin or Houston, you’ll see many bluebonnets alongside the highway. But, these places are not safe enough for me to take my dogs for pictures. They are too likely to break their stays and take a run in the open fields. And, they have no sense that cars are dangerous… (Ha! Cars are just a way to take them from one fun activity to the next!!)
The first place we went was to a school stadium parking lot. The bluebonnets seemed to have popped up there before they became prolific elsewhere. So, I managed to get early bluebonnet pictures, but nothing I was proud of. I thought I waited to go until the sun was in a spot where it wouldn’t cause shadows and squinty eyes, but I was wrong! Way wrong.
The patches were relatively small, too. But, the good news is that they were behind a fence. I was really glad, because Cotton almost always takes off in a mad dash the opposite direction as where I am. And, Barney always follows her. Both of them run at full speed.
|Barney can’t keep his eyes open – sun is too bright.|
|Sun in your eyes, Cotton?!|
|See what I mean about them taking off and running? They ran to the far end of the fence.
I held my breath, praying that there wasn’t a hole where they could get out.
This patch wasn’t desirable, except for the fact that it had a fence and a few blue flowers. I wasn’t sure I was going to capture “the bluebonnet picture of the season” here, though.
I was fortunate that a friend shared where she goes to take her bluebonnet pictures. I think it is another Texas tradition to keep mum about the really beautiful patches you find. That keeps them really nice because rude people don’t trample all of the flowers down.
You wouldn’t believe how much disregard people have for these beautiful flower patches. They bring blankets that they lay down right in the middle of a patch. Or they bring wagons or they encourage their children to run with abandon through the fields. It is true that it makes a lovely picture for them. But, it destroys large patches of flowers for all of those who come behind them for pictures. It also kills the flowers so they are not able to go to seed. Next year, the patch will be smaller because fewer flowers left behind their seeds for next year.
But, this story is about finding beautiful spots where I can take pictures of my dogs with the bluebonnets.
Cotton, Barney and I headed out to the park where we were told the bluebonnets were out. The park is somewhat out of the way and apparently not well known. Both of these attributes are good!
On our first trip, I managed once more to go when the sun was in the dogs’ eyes. Not only that, because we have been homebodies for the last few weeks, they were very excited to be out and about. Posing for picture after picture is not their idea of a good time! Barney was very cooperative, but Cotton was on a tear. She just wanted to go, go, go and have fun.
I admit I was pretty frustrated with the whole trip except that I now knew a nice place to go to take the dogs for pictures. And, I vowed I would get up early and take them out before the sun was going to be a problem.
So, we headed out the next day, this time around 7:30 AM. Turns out we didn’t need to leave so early as it was cloudy all day, but it got me out of bed and on the road so it’s all good!
Never one to stay on the beaten path, my dogs and I found some nearly undisturbed patches of blue for pictures!! We had a great day. Cotton was cooperative and so was Barney. We were away from where other people might walk by (my dogs tend to be reactive toward other dogs and want to run and greet other people).
|running and running and running … they love it!|
|This dog nearly always has a big smile on her face. Happiest dog ever!|
Both dogs must have gotten a little bored with our picture taking. Both did some yawning!
Besides bluebonnets, we saw other pretty flowers. I am fairly non-discriminatory when it comes to enjoying wildflowers (and even not-wildflowers (cultivated flowers, I guess they’re called)!
I recently saw someone else’s video of a visit to the Arboretum. It included stills and video and I really liked it a lot. I remembered to take a couple of videos while we were taking pictures on Saturday morning so that I could play with putting together my own “integrated” video. It is not fabulous, I know, but here’s my first attempt (wish the wind had been blowing the bluebonnets … but it was a surprisingly still day) …